Spring 2013 #J361 Midterm


What’s left after the #J361 group goes through two dozen Voodoo Doughnut boxes …

Part I: The Book

• This portion is about “Inside Reporting” by Tim Harrower, and nothing else except where explicitly stated.
• You have until about 10:45 for this part.
• Each question is worth two points of 100 total for the midterm.
• You may not use notes or the internet.
• You may use a phone or the calculator on a computer for the math question.
• If you don’t know something, skip it and come back later.
• The bonus questions are worth half a point apiece.

1. In what verb tense will you be writing your news story for this midterm, or any news story? What about your profile and your enterprise story – what verb tense will you use in them? (Ch. 4, 6) Bonus: What classification (sports? news?) of stories are the profile and enterprise?

2. Harrower lists “Five Essential Journalism Films” in Chapter One. Please name any one of them, and then answer this: What film with journalism in it do you think is “essential” and why? (Ch. 1) Bonus: What rule of having a beat do fictional reporters in film or TV often break?

3. When you’re trying to convince your editor to run a story that you think is newsworthy, what news values (from Ch.2, also called ‘What Makes A Story Interesting to Readers?’) might you use to get her to run it? List any four.

4. You’re a cub reporter at Talking Points Memo, ESPN.com or The Awl. What are four things your editors (various editors, if you like) can help you with during your first story? (Ch. 3)

5. Starting your job at your dream publication is thrilling – and freakin’ scary. Luckily, you’re taking over a beat from someone who has simply moved to a new beat. What are three things you do immediately or soon to figure out how to attack your beat? (Ch. 5)

6. You head out to get your first interviews on that beat. List eight different things you do to set up and prepare for the interview, run the interview successfully and make sure you have what you need after the interview. (Ch. 4)

7. For your profile assignment, you’ll spend some time just observing your person as she or he interacts with others. What are the four types of observation Harrower says will be most useful to you? (Ch. 4) Bonus: What are the three senses Harrower didn’t list, and how might you use them while observing and taking notes?

8. “Get me a cutline now!” someone higher up at your small paper growls at you. What’s a cutline? And which person out of these four is that likely to be: the advertising manager, the publisher, the circulation manager or the production manager? (Ch. 2) Bonus: What’s a teaser, and how is it different from a refer?

9. You won your ideal job: Short-form features designer at “USA Today.” You sealed the deal by proposing four different short-form alternatives to supplement an enterprise story about an avalanche. What were the four you proposed (any four from the chapter will be fine here)? (Ch.6)

10. You’re assigned the courts beat as an intern for the “Oregonian.” But first, you have to pass a quiz assigned by your editor proving that you know what from what about the courts of the United States. (Ch. 5) Please answer these questions:
a. What are a few things from Harrower’s checklist to include in any court story? (List three.)

b. In a civil suit, is the government involved on one side or the other (usually)? If so, which side? If not, who is involved?

c. If a 19-year-old gets caught with pot during a DUI stop, and she strikes a deal with the district attorney to turn in her dealer so she can to plead down the severity of her charge, will she plead down from a felony to a misdemeanor or a misdemeanor to a felony?

11. You’re helping your best J361 buddy edit a profile draft. You read it out loud and discover that Harrower’s “5 Reasons to Hit the Delete Key” aren’t just urban legend: You find all five. Please list three of those “5 Reasons” here. (Ch. 3) Bonus: How do you calculate your fog index?

12. When you’re dealing with victims of a tragedy, but you have to meet your deadline anyway, what are a few ways you can show extra sensitivity to those victims? List at least two for full credit. (Ch. 5) Bonus: What are two things you might do (according to Tim Harrower) when you arrive on the scene of an accident or disaster?

13. You’re helping a new reporter figure out what a profile story is and how he’ll have time to write one when he’s in the middle of writing 106 sports stories a week (you might be able to use some of the tips you learned about writing enterprise stories). (Ch. 6) He asks you two questions:
a. What are three ways to “paint a better portrait” in my profile?

b. How can I squeeze out time to find background information and secondary sources for my profile subject or any other feature story I’m assigned?

14. Please sketch and fully label (as in the book) the three shapes for various stories. Make sure you explain what kind of story you’d write with that basic shape, and make sure you show in your sketch what information goes where. Also, name the shapes. (Ch. 3)

15. Math! Do A or B. (Ch. 4)
A. As you know, Lane County Administrator Liane Richardson wanted her salary raised because she felt it was unfairly low. Here are the salaries of administrators for 10 other counties in Oregon:

$200,000 $175,000 $92,000 $86,500 $298,000
$49,500 $103,000 $53,000 $94,500 $66,500

1. What’s the mean salary for county administrators at those 10 other counties?

2. What’s the median salary?

Bonus: Which person do you think is the county administrator in Multnomah County? What about Deschutes County (where Bend is) or Marion County (where Salem is)?

B. The University of Oregon has 20,829 undergraduates this year. Of those, 8,562 are U.S. out-of-state students, and 2,550 are international students. Of those international students, 978 are from mainland China.

1. What percentage of the undergrads are from Oregon, and what percentage of the international students come from mainland China?

2. Of the undergrads, 137 are Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and 1639 identify as Hispanic, Latino or Chicano. What percentage of the undergrad population identifies as Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander? What percentage identifies as Hispanic, Latino or Chicano?

Bonus: Last fall, 3946 first-year students enrolled, and 80 percent of those students lived in the dorms. What’s the number of first-year students who lived in the dorms at the beginning of fall term?

Extra Bonuses:
If we could have a guest speaker in #J361 from newspaper, T.V., radio, or
multimedia, which one area (and you can suggest a speaker, but that’s less likely) would you choose, and why?

When Katie Campbell and Michael Werner came to speak to the class, what did you learn from their talk?

What’s your dream job, and how do you plan to make it happen?


Working hard at the math portion and Part II …

Part II: Reflection and Analysis (Meta-News)

This portion of the midterm is worth 20 points (20 percent) of the midterm grade, with each mini-essay worth 10 points.

You have approximately 40 minutes to answer these questions. Please plan your time accordingly, and use your phone alarm if you need to remind yourself to stop working on the first question and move on to the second question. You MUST be finished by 11:25 so you can take Part III.

Each question has two options. Please pick EITHER A. or B. to answer in each case. (Whichever one appeals more to you or you know more about.)

As you answer these questions, please use links and references to OTHER articles or examples on the internet to back up the claims you make in your answers. You may also link to the original article, but you need to have other examples in order to have a chance at full credit for any portion.

Question 1:
Please read “How we internet: Finding the right news among too many options,” by Callie Schweitzer (@cschweitz) on Medium.com.

Then answer either A or B below:
A. Schweitzer combines print, desktop, laptop and mobile news consumption in her day. How much has mobile news (that is, on a phone or tablet) affected news consumption? Please refer to several examples you find online to back up your claims.

B. Go through your own day and describe how you consume news. Refer to the news sites you read on the computers at school or your own computer. Explain what apps you use to find news – or to have news find you.

Question 2:
Please read “Wrong narratives may outweigh wrong facts, but reporting with respect means getting both right,” by Caroline O’Donovan on NiemanLab.

Then answer either A or B below:
A. In light of this story, how would you and your news staff (let’s assume you’re an editor) make a plan to cover a school shooting in the Eugene-Springfield area? Find at least one account online of a newspaper’s disaster coverage plan to back up your detailed planning.

B. When reporters make mistakes on Twitter, in blog posts or online articles during tragedies, how can they correct those errors in a respectful, smart way? Please address the online components of correcting mistakes and refer to pieces that have guidelines for journalists for Twitter or blog corrections (many journalism organizations have this discussion – often – online).

Part III: AP Style and Quotations/Attributions/Commas

Instructions: Find at least one error in each of the sentences below. You may use the internet and your AP book or an AP app. Though there are more, a full score for this section would be finding 20 errors. Any miscorrections or created errors will be subtracted from the grade for this portion, so be very careful what you correct. You have about 30 minutes for this portion. Further note: In correcting offensive language, be sure to suggest replacement language, or it’s not a correction.

1. Zurich, SWITZERLAND — During WWII, the Swiss, whom were involved with the protection of many peoples’ and government’s money did not fight but could hear antiaircraft mortars and 105mm Howitzers in Germany.

2. EUGENE — A few disasters we have to watch out for here in the pacific northwest is tidal tsunamis in our Coastal Waters and of course fire fights during the Summer.

3. She was squealing, literally striken dumb by watching The Ex-orcist with all of her best-friend’s during the birthday party.

4. Note: Use any conversion charts you need (in the AP Stylebook) for this one: Weather you’re running a 100-kilometre/6.2-mile race or walking in an 8kilometer ‘fun run,’ you probably like this Spring weather in the Willamette valley.

5. Note: You will need to consult the internet for one, perhaps two of the issues in this sentence. Feel free to do so. At the FL capital building in St. Augustine, the wingnut Republicans and ultra-leftist Democratics clashed over Obamacare.

6. “Is that long movie in 3D? If so, lets go see it,” said the individual theretofore known as someone who hated to sit still for longer than fifty mins.

7. Dennis Dixon was laying on the field with a knee injury while the tender-hearted announcers broadcasted God-damned awful second rate jokes to they’re listeners.

Quotations/Attributions/A Few Commas – No AP correx necessary in these (and feel free to rewrite, though don’t change a direct quote except in the case of punctuation errors).

8. “I was sad to hear about the death of Chris Kelly” murmured the radio DJ, “That song, ‘Jump,’ was part of my childhood.”

9. “Is the Indian Ocean part of the Pacific Ocean” wondered Maria Isabel to her seatmate when she was on the plane to Australia.

10. According to the police chief at the press conference: “Cottage Grove resident, Jeanne Frederick, helped trace the missing alpacas.”

“That was real nice of her” said the farmer who accidentally let them out of the paddock, “We will be happy to knit her some socks from their wool” the farmer added.

Part IV: News Story

Using the same topic about which you wrote a lede and nut graf on Tuesday (How are UO students reacting to the news of higher fees starting in the summer or fall?), please get back in your groups and find three more non-J-students who have thoughts on the raise in fees for next year. You may use the quotes from the other day and your new sources as you write your news story.

By Saturday at noon, EMAIL me a 350-600-word news story. I will get it back to you Saturday night or Sunday morning, and you should POST it to Reporting1Blog by Monday, May 6, at noon – with a headline, your byline, images, links and tags.

Your group may use the same images if you wish. Be sure to have a cutline (caption) for each image, and a photo credit as well.

One of the tags should be midterm and another should be part IV (the others are up to you)

Good luck!


About Suzi Steffen

Suzi Steffen teaches, writes, edits, reviews and rides (her adult tricycle named Momo) in Eugene, Oregon. For many years, she taught as an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communication. As of fall 2015, she's teaching at Linn-Benton Community College, and as of fall 2017, she's also teaching at Wenatchee Valley College in Washington State. Suzi edited Lane Monthly and works as an arts journalist across the state and country. You can find her at jprofsuzi on Twitter or email her at jprofsuzi at gmail dot com.
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